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28 Comments

I accidentally became an indie hacker. Currently at $1.5k /month. AMA!

My backstory

Before I became a full-time indie hacker with Keepthescore.co I was a product manager (aka product owner). I had always had a strong technical affinity and was often working on small side-projects. Until 12 months ago, it was never my intention to become an Indie Hacker.

In 2016, when I started working on Keepthescore.co as another side-project it was my most ambitious project to date -- I finally wanted to tackle … drum-roll 🥁 … a database-driven app. Up till then I had made static sites and simple Android apps.

I decided to use Python Flask for my project and had absolutely no idea what I was doing. (To be honest, I still have very little idea what I am doing). Through sheer luck I avoided making any catastrophic technical decisions and I was able to create a solid foundation upon which I could continue to build. This was in October 2016. I am absolutely a fully-paid up member of the “Boring Technology Club” and continue to reap the benefits of that. Back then my app was a server-side-rendered CRUD app. Now I have a few sprinkles of Vue.js and some client-side rendering, but all still very boring and CRUDdy.

I posted my app on Reddit and was thrilled when my usage numbers went up and to the right from day 1. This continued -- very slowly -- for the next 4 years. All growth has been organic.

Last year the double whammy of covid and the death of my mother pushed me to reconsider my future. I realised that I was trying to love a job that didn’t love me back. I realised that no job will love you back unless you are working for yourself.

The first thing I did was take 2 months off from work and focus on doing what I loved: hacking on my own projects. Amongst other things I added a Stripe integration to Keepthescore.

Almost immediately revenue was at $500 /month, which was mind-blowing to me. It told me that people were prepared to pay for my product, which was still very rudimentary and didn’t even have a login.

“Screw this”, I thought to myself. “I’m quitting my job. If I don’t pursue this opportunity I’m going to regret it for the rest of my life #yolo 🥳”. So I quit. I had become an Indie Hacker.

In the 6 months that have passed since I quit I have managed to increase revenue to $1.5k / month. My goal for the next 6 months is to reach $2k / month. My revenue jumps around a lot because I also make custom scoreboards for B2B customers. Here’s an example. This is obviously not scalable, but a good way of earning more money. Also, it’s a great way of learning what customers want and are prepared to pay for.

In the next few months I aim to double down on marketing, which I have completely neglected so far. I did say I have no idea what I’m doing.

AMA!

  1. 4

    I'm more impressed how you got this simple android app to 100.000+ Downloads. :D Respekt aufjedenfall dafür! Could you maybe also tell us something about the app? How did you market it? Did you use ads? Is it only in german?

    1. 3

      Haha, danke!

      I made the app by copying another app which was extremely simplistic. I added a little design and some improved features (e.g. sharing the audio).

      Then I just left it and it grew by itself. For a while it was the number one app in the "Comic" category on Google Play (categories have since been removed, I think). This helped.

      The app was more or less dead until some dude made a Youtube video with 7 million views. This alone resulted in over 200k downloads!

      1. 2

        Wow. Did you monetize the app& earn something? (Don't really know what you can expect from such a rather "simple" app)

  2. 3

    Congrats on hitting the amazing $1K MRR milestone!

    Can I know what were the things you did, marketing-wise, to get to the first $100, $500 then $1K MRR mark?

    Cheers!

    1. 2

      Thanks!

      At the moment my marketing relies solely on SEO. The only proactive thing I do is publish blog articles in the hope of getting more links. Here's my most successful one which was on the frontpage of Hacker News for one day.

      I hope to have more to tell in a few months regarding my marketing strategy.

  3. 3

    As a fellow Product Manager, currently indie hacking nights and weekends, nice job on the progress and best of luck going forward!

    How has the transition been PMing for a project of your own vs PMing for a team? I find it's so much easier to prioritize and be objective at my day job than for my project.

    It varies from company to company how involved a PM is in the go to market strategy (for me, I don't get to be involved much), how has it been building that out yourself?

    1. 1

      Thanks!

      Interesting that you find PMing for you day job easier. For me it's exactly the other way round. I find I have have much more clarity about the goals and KPIs of my own project. There are no distractions, no other stakeholders and of course, no meetings.

      My go-to-market strategy is "mediocre SEO". Improving on this and actually having a strategy is what I will concentrate on in the next few months.

      1. 1

        I suppose it's easier to be objective with my day job? No meetings is certainly a great perk, that's pretty much most of my day and I am very much looking forward to leaving that behind.

        And nice! If you want to level up your SEO strategy, I can help you there. I've been running one:one and group programs tp help marketers and founders build highly effective SEO strategies (we go beyond the usual "just build a list of keywords and blog about it", this is the type of stuff companies actually do to succeed at SEO).

        We've had a few other indiehackers complete our programs with some good success! Would love to chat if you're interested, happy to just connect with another indiehacker and offer some free SEO advice as well :) email is [email protected]

  4. 1

    Awesome! What do you use for the comments section at the bottom of your example boards?

    1. 1

      It's called Hyvor Chat

  5. 1

    This is inspiring, love this, You continued despite what life threw at you.

    Good luck!

  6. 1
    1. If you're not marketing much, I'm guessing there's people sharing it via word of mouth and/or social media. Do you know if that's true?

    2. More of a tech question since you're using Flask: how do you do analytics for your site? Like number of people who visit, those who pay, those who almost pay, where people get stuck, etc

    1. 1
      1. Yes, this is true. People are sharing on Social Media (which I can see) and word of mouth (which I cannot see).
      2. I use usefathom.com for analytics, it's rudimentary but good enough. I also use https://www.metabase.com for generating reports and dashboards, which is great
  7. 1

    This is amazing Caspar, I love following your progress and how real and down-to-earth you are. Especially love the 'boring' software stack :D I'm a Flask user myself as well and honestly yeah it's great how simple and 'dumb' it is

  8. 1

    Great success @Caspii.... it's so amazing to see your hardwork bearing fruit!
    On keep the score, it's one time payment so 1.5k is all through growth each month which is even more amazing.
    Have you thought about how to drive and charge for retention?

    1. 1

      Thanks Nick!

      I will be adding subscriptions soon, but other than that, I have no plan.

  9. 1

    I haven't been on IH in like a year now and I come back to this beautiful story. Well done!

  10. 1

    Love this! Well done! 👍

  11. 1

    Great story Caspar! Kinda recognise myself into it on the "accidental part".
    Can't wait to read more from you.

  12. 1

    Wow totally impressed!! Congrats on your growth! 🎉

    My last corp position was also a product owner and before that I was an android dev. Love that I could relate! But unlike you, I never did any side projects which is one of my biggest regrets in life right now.

    Really curious about your target niche. Your app's website says it's recommended for classrooms. Are the teachers still your major customers? I had plans to serve the ed tech but not sure how to approach them.

    1. 2

      Thanks @rossvethlopez!

      Yeah, I have many teachers, but also other organisations. It's not ideal that I have such a broad audience.

      I would approach them on Reddit.

  13. 1

    Great story, Caspar! Congratulations on the success. :)

    1. 1

      Thanks! Real, sustainable success is still some way off 😉

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